- In an effort to boost customer service, Lowe's will increase "customer-facing hours," Fortune reports.
- The announcement came after the company posted disappointing second-quarter sales and profit numbers, especially compared to rival Home Depot, according to Fortune.
- In a statement, Lowe's CEO Robert Niblock said the company plans to counteract its disappointing market performance by extending employee hours for more face-time with customers and expanding its consumer marketing strategies. Fortune says the solution could mean a sacrifice in profits for the company but that it could pay off in the long run.
Employers that focus on improving the customer experience and engaging employees often enjoy a good return on their investment. But retailers must consider whether extending workers' hours is a good long-term solution.
Some companies, like Amazon, have instead chosen to look ahead at major changes on the horizon. With the massive increase in online sales over in-store shopping, big-box brick-and-mortar retailers were laying off workers through closures and down-sizing. As Amazon's online sales mushroomed, it began opening fulfillment centers and absorbing some of those workers to pack and ship merchandise.
Wal-Mart offers a virtual development program to invest in workers and also provides a two-track training program, one for entry-level workers and another for those on a managerial course. The company also runs a GED program to help workers earn a high school diploma. However, critics of the training programs say they only prepare workers for employment at the company rather than for long-term career development.
But despite these efforts, automation could be the next frontier for retailers like Amazon and Wal-Mart. One estimate says computerization could replace 7.5 million retail jobs. However, because retailers will likely need employees to monitor, oversee and work alongside robots and other forms of automation, they might need to invest in training for higher-level tech positions.